The police report can be submitted by the officers themselves or by citizens (for example, in cases of burglary). They contain vital information for judges, juries as well as attorneys and victims.
Writing police reports is a part of your job as a law enforcement officer. Your job will be easier if you can write a detailed report that explains the facts in a case. A poor or incomplete report may lead to you being accused of omitting vital information.
Your department and you will benefit from a more detailed and accurate report. You will learn how to properly write a report and the importance it holds.
The importance of police reports
It is common to write a police statement after gathering all the necessary information. In court, lawyers often request your police report. It is important because it acts as a document, telling the jury and judge what happened.
A good report from the police can be all that separates a case from being thrown out. The justice system relies heavily on police reports, so officers need to take great care in ensuring that their reports are accurate and comprehensive. It is easier to understand a case with a detailed police report.
How do you write the perfect police report?
A police report's content should be arranged in outline format. You should be as thorough as possible.
This is an in-depth guide on how you should write a proper police report.
The police report header includes information about the agency's name, location and contact information. Include your name and the names of all other parties involved. The incident is also described, usually as "theft", "vandalism" or both. Include the time and date.
- Date: Reports should include a date and the time they were filed. It is crucial to keep accurate records.
- Title: In the title, you should mention who is reporting. You can use "robbery", for instance, in the title of a report on robbery. The same is true if the report is about burglary or assault. If there are multiple incidents involving the same person (for example, domestic violence and assault), you should use the name of the individual in the title.
- Officer title: Write the officer's full name at the beginning of your report. This will help you to avoid any confusion. The report will be easier to maintain.
- Time: Using this will ensure that the date of your report is accurate.
- Location: The report must include the precise location of the crime. It will be helpful for any investigation that needs to take place at the location. Include any specific addresses or intersections of the accident.
This section should include the following: This section includes the following information:
- Reporting the nature of an incident or call: Include the nature or call in the police report. It could be "theft," a "violence" or a "burglary." In a police report, it is important to describe the incident or call as accurately and as completely as possible.
- When did you arrive? This is a crucial part if anyone ever questions why you were there. How did you get there? To answer this, you need to write it down.
- Additional police officers who were present: In the event that you are questioned and asked to explain what happened in detail, it is helpful to have a second opinion or source.
You should write down the five Ws plus 1H: who,what,where,when,why,and how.
- Who: This section begins with a description of the victim, or if they are witnesses or victims themselves.
For example, if a robbery occurred at a convenience store, it's important to include who was involved in the transaction. Next, make sure to list the names of any suspects or persons of interest involved in whatever happened.
- What: After listing everyone involved in an incident, you must explain what happened in chronological order. For example, if someone is reporting a robbery, you'll need to include who was involved and what happened.
- Where: Explain where the incident took place in specific detail, including room numbers and landmarks if applicable. For example, the location of a reported robbery could include specifically which door or aisle of a store was involved.
- When: The time the incident occurred must be included in this section, including specific relevant times. This is important as it will provide a date stamp if any discrepancies or questions surrounding when the incident occurred.
- Why: This is where you will list what you believe happened and why it happened. This section may also include who was the perpetrator if known. For example, if someone reports that they were assaulted, you must explain why the situation happened. This section of the report may also include any motive or possible intent of the perpetrator if known.
- How: This section should provide a step-by-step explanation of everything that happened. This will help to paint a clear picture of what transpired. In some cases, it might be helpful to diagram or map out the scene of the crime. Therefore, it is essential to be as detailed as possible when writing the "how" section of a police report.
In this section, you'll need to include your final action if any follow-up details are needed in the future. For example, suppose a victim or witness doesn't have all their information when they leave from reporting an incident. In that case, you will want to let them know that they will be contacted for a follow-up police report when necessary information has been acquired.
Also, if there is nothing else to add to the report, end by saying that there is nothing to report further: This line helps solidify that you have thoroughly investigated your call or the case and reported it to the best of your ability.
Tip: Before you write a police report, make sure you have all the correct forms. Different police departments will have different forms, so you will need to know which ones are correct for your department. If you don't, the report may contain incorrect information and be incomplete.